Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Looking Back From Auckland

Since I moved to the City of Sails, or lets just say Auckland, things have been a lot different. Times have changed so fast, sometimes despite my reluctance, and a lot of what I thought I would never let go are beginning to loosen their grips on my subconscious.  It seems like it was just yesterday that I was looking out of the window of  Singapore Airlines Flight- 721, trying to catch my first glimpse of this gorgeous city! I can't believe I've been here almost half a year now! Time flew by so fast, and Auckland has been more than gracious to me. I knew I was going to love this city the moment I set foot outside the Airport, and I really couldn't have been more right. These have been five of the most wonderful months of my life, and I have woken up everyday in this beautiful city without dreading having to get out of bed. Well, it's not much as it stands, but in light of the last couple of years it's more than a day in Disneyland. I have met some of the most wonderful people here, the city is achingly mesmerizing, and the University has one of the finest departments in the world. I have had the opportunity of getting to know and work alongside a magnificent woman- almost hypnotizing in her charm and brilliance ( I fear it is going to make facing the end of the year rather dreadful. Oh! Why must every rose come with its thorns?). I finally got to experience what it's like to have a true mentor. I have had tons of fun through some grueling hours in the library and the lab trying to decipher some seemingly undecipherable problems. And I have had the great joy of working with Dr Jason Brown- the coolest and the greatest supervisor ever. Jason has been a constant source of guidance and encouragement ever since the day I walked into his lab on that drizzly February morning. He has this amazing ability to make people find a way out of any problem without holding their hands, and as a result everyone comes out stronger. He has been there for every little query and doubt I have had, and at times has lent a hand with courses I wasn't doing with him. Through him I've got to know some of the most prominent academics, and have had the opportunity to learn from some of the most prolific and rebellious people working in the field. Chris Golston (California), Karsten Koch(UBC) and Kehn Rehg( Hawaii) are three people I have been incredibly lucky to get to know, thanks to Jason. Chris actually gave me the first push I needed to get started in the right direction with my Master's thesis. Without that tiny hint about underspecification from Chris ( and a subsequent and more elaborate explanation from S) I would still be stuck. Karsten and Kehn are both extraordinary field-workers, and Kehn brings over twenty years of experience in in-the-field phonological analysis to the table.  I have heard some of the most inspiring stories about field work from Dr Kehn Rehg, and it helps so much to have that added motivation when you are just about to embark on that journey yourself, taking your first baby-steps in the direction. And I have Jason to thank for this incredible experience. My first semester has been more than just 'eventful' here in UoA.

Of course, I have been incredibly happy and productive in these past few months. But I have still wondered, during some late night strolls around the Seafield View Road, about the long and strange trip I've been on since 2006. That year will always be important to me, although not very endearing. That was the year that my life, as I had known it for twenty years, changed completely. Since then, it has been one hell of a roller-coaster ride. There has been ups, and there has been downs ( and a friggin' lot of them, I must say), but it has never really been the same. I suppose one of the most important things I have learned over the past few years is that sometimes there is no going back. There will always be some threads of the old life that you can't pick up. You will never be able to tie them up into neat little butterflies, and that's just something you have got to learn to live with- there will always be loose ends left. But I suppose that won't matter... not in the end. I haven't forgotten the mistakes I made, seven years back, and some after. I am not particularly proud of the way I have done certain things in the past, and if I could go back in time and do them over, I would do them differently. But I like to think that I have paid the price, along with all accumulated interests. I have done my time. Now, after almost a decade, I will like to put it all behind me. I will like to move on. And for once, I am not dreading the journey ahead. To quote Tolkien, "I think I am quite ready for another adventure." In parting then, I will like to acknowledge my eternal debt to some very special people who had, at different times, graced my life with their presence, but have since then moved on. They left their mark on me, and they influenced my life in no small measure. It is because of them that I am who I am. I have carried the memories with me for seven years, and sometimes they have weighed down on me like the world was upon my shoulders. And I don't say that with any amount of regret. They may not understand this, but for the longest time those memories were the only things I had going for me. So, thanks S.H., M.K.B., R.G., and A.T. And most of all thanks L- you believed in me when no one else in the world wanted to touch me. I couldn't have done it without you. Wish your were here. I will cherish the memories forever. And God! We have got such a lot of them, haven't we? I can't even begin to recall them all. But, as it is with me, I like to think of everything in life as a Bob Dylan or a Beatles song. And there is that one line in that one Beatles song-

"You and I have memories
  Longer than the road that stretches ahead"

I think that's quite true here.

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